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article imageWindows 10's next big update is coming in the fall

By James Walker     May 11, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be getting another major feature update later this year. The company will debut a new design language, bring back a top-requested OneDrive feature and introduce new "storytelling" apps.
Microsoft unveiled the update, dubbed the "Windows 10 Fall Creators Update," on-stage during the Day 2 keynote of its BUILD developers event today. The ongoing conference in Seattle has already been used to officially take the wraps off the Microsoft Fluent Design Language, a complete overhaul of Windows 10's look and feel that will start to appear with the update.
Files On-Demand
Microsoft has also announced several other major features that are coming to Windows. Amongst them is the return of OneDrive Placeholders, the popular feature of the Windows 8 OneDrive app that was removed for Windows 10.
Placeholders solved the problem of accessing your entire cloud storage from within File Explorer, without downloading every file. You could selectively choose folders to sync and the files within would download as expected. Other folders and files not explicitly synced would still show up though, letting you browse through your OneDrive from your desktop. If you tried to open a file which wasn't synced, it would immediately download and open as normal.
Capture of Microsoft s  Introducing OneDrive  video after the rebranding of SkyDrive
Capture of Microsoft's "Introducing OneDrive" video after the rebranding of SkyDrive
Microsoft
When it removed the feature, Microsoft claimed it had received feedback that it was confusing and misunderstood by users. People thought their files were downloaded when in actual fact they were only stored in the cloud. Ever since the demise of Placeholders, a large and vocal group of users have campaigned for them to be added back, something Microsoft's finally doing this fall.
The feature has been renamed to Files On-Demand but in all other respects is practically identical to Placeholders. Microsoft has changed the way files are labelled to help users who were confused by Placeholders. Green ticks indicate a fully downloaded file while blue clouds show the file is actually a OneDrive placeholder. Files On-Demand will be optional.
Microsoft has also improved on the other weaknesses of Placeholders. Files would only download if opened directly from Windows Explorer or Office, leading to errors if a program or the command line tried to access them in the background. Files On-Demand introduces a completely new architecture including a filesystem driver, removing this limitation. In simpler terms, it's fully integrated into Windows so the placeholders behave exactly like real files.
Continuum and Continuity
The Fall Update is getting a new set of cross-device experience features aimed at making it easier to use multiple Windows devices simultaneously. "Pick Up Where You Left Off" works like Apple's Continuity and Handoff capabilities, letting you resume work you were completing on your laptop when you return to your desktop. It also works on mobile devices, letting you jump straight back into the app you were last using.
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HP / Microsoft
Microsoft has also finally added clipboard integration to Windows, months after launching a beta of "OneClip." OneClip let you synchronise your Windows clipboard to your mobile devices so you could copy text from your PC and paste it into an app on your phone. This is now fully integrated into Windows and will work between all compatible devices.
“We designed Windows 10 to empower the creator in all of us,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president, Windows and Devices Group, Microsoft. “We’re excited for our customers to take advantage of the new features in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that will empower innovative experiences; a modern, unified design for cross-device experiences; and an easier path for developers to create for the future of computing.”
Timeline, Apps and more
Microsoft has announced another new feature that could be a privacy concern to some users. Timeline appears within Windows' Task View virtual desktops switcher. It lets you see a history of all the apps and activities you've recently completed on the device, showing websites visited, songs played and files opened. It's similar to the little-known Journal feature in Microsoft Outlook that tracks your use of Office files, except Timeline extends across Windows and will work with third-party apps.
Finally, the Fall Creators Update will come with many other smaller features and refinements, alongside new apps and other larger changes yet to be revealed. Notably, Microsoft has introduced a new "Story Remix" extension for the Photos app that lets you transform your photo albums into intelligently generated videos. More features will be unveiled over the course of the next few months before the update lands in September.
READ NEXT: Microsoft introduces Fluent Design, Windows 10's radical new look
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, windows 10 fall update, build 2017